Sunday, July 14, 2013

Brussels Sprouts

For a brief while, we had a great little restaurant called Virtù up next to Dianne’s on Divine (which is now also closed) that had the best brussels sprouts in town. Below is what I’ve come up with as a kind of pale imitation thereof. (BTW, Il Giorgione, which now inhabits Virtù’s old space, is well worth a visit.)

Steam 3 sprouts per person until tender.

While they are steaming, thinly cut one slice of red onion per person and start to sauté in a pan with plenty of room.

When the onions have started to clarify, the sprouts should be tender. Remove them from the steamer, remove any coarse outer leaves, cut the sprouts in half, and put them flat side down into the pan with the onions.

When the onions start to brown, push them to a side of the pan away from the heat. Move them from time to time to keep them from burning.

When the sprouts have started to brown on the flat side side, flip them over. When they start to brown on their tops, flip them again.

Quickly but gently stir the onions and sprouts in together and splash some balsamic vinegar over them. Let the balsamic reduce a bit an infuse the veggies with its flavor.

S&P to taste.


When I'm doing this for just myself, I also crisp up a half strip of bacon and crumble it in while the balsamic is steaming away.

You’re welcome.

Chris’s Chimmichurri

We are soon to be godparents for the third time. (This time, it’s a boy.) The actual parents hosted a surprise birthday party for Dr. Nurse this year, and she absolutely loved the chimmichurri he had prepared for a couple of the dishes. He sent home a healthy does of the stuff and posted the recipe on FaceBook a couple of days later. Given how quickly things vanish down the FB feed, I thought I had better nab the recipe and put it here for safe keeping / duplication:

Put into a food processor:
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 sweet onion
  • 1 tsp red pepper flake
Pulse and let sit ten minutes.

  • 1.5 cups cilantro
  • 1.5 cups parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh oregano (or 1/4 cup dried)
and pulse in
  • 3/4 cups extra virgin olive oil 
until a smooth past forms.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Time to play.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Doctor’s Potato Salad

Dr. Nurse makes a fantastic potato salad. It’s so good that when the family is doing a pot-luck, the two most requested items are her mother’s banana pudding and this. And we’re talking dozens of relatives with many, many recipes each. Tonight, she posted the recipe in a FB group for our youngest goddaughter’s grandmother’s birthday (clear on that?). Here’s what she said:

Creamy Potato Salad (adapted from a recipe appearing in our 1981 copy of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.)

What follows is the recipe for a small batch. For feeding large crowds, I’ve put the larger quantities at the end.


Small batch:

Fill a stockpot 1/2 way full of water, add a bit of salt, put on to boil.

While the water is heating up, chop into medium-sized pieces
* 2-2½ # unpeeled Yukon gold potatoes (about 6 baking potatoes). [Do not peel the potatoes. Really. It’s a complete waste of time.]
Set aside.

Mix in a medium-sized bowl & set aside:
* ½ cup finely chopped white onions (I use the Pampered Chef version of the Slap Chopper)
* ⅓ cup sweet pickle relish (Mount Olive brand is great!)

Right about now, the water should be boiling. Add:
* the chopped potatoes
* 2 eggs
Reduce heat just enough to keep things boiling. Set timer for 15 minutes.

Mix together in another bowl:
* 1 & ¼ cup Mayo
* 2 tsp sugar
* 2 tsp celery seed
* 2 tsp white vinegar
* 1 ½ tsp salt
* 2 Tbsp mustard (just plain cheap yellow mustard)

(Note on Mayo: Mayo preferences are very impassioned and very regional. That being said, I think this recipe tastes best with Dukes Mayonnaise. I buy new jars each time I make it.
If you are planning to have the potato salad outside for some period of time, you might want to use Miracle Whip Salad Dressing -- which also tastes a bit tangier. But then, you’ll have cooked eggs sitting out in the heat, and what’s the point of putting all of that work into a recipe that you’re just going to let go bad? Better to use the Dukes and keep the salad in the cooler.)

When the timer for the potatoes and eggs goes off, follow the instructions below.

  1. Strain off the water, leaving potatoes and eggs in a colander. DO NOT RINSE.
    (1.b. If you’ve rinsed off the potatoes, start over….)
  2. Return the potatoes to your stock pot. It makes a great HOT mixing bowl.
  3. Leave the eggs in the colander -- run cold water over them to stop the cooking process (so the yolks don’t turn green) and quickly peel off the shells. Leave the eggs in cool water.
  4. Add the onions and pickle relish to the hot potato pieces. Stir furiously -- you’re starting the mashing process, sweetening the potatoes and lightly cooking the onion and pickle flavors into each bite. You’re also softening up the veggies.
  5. Add the mayo mixture. Stir furiously. Things may start looking soupy and you may worry you have more sauce than potatoes. You’re fine.
  6. Set down that hot stock pot and head back to the sink where your eggs are chilling. Chop them finely, and bring them over to your work area.
  7. Add the eggs to your potato mixture. Stir well.
  8. Transfer the potato salad into a smaller bowl and set into the fridge to cool. I use 1-2 shallow pans so that the evaporative cooling goes more quickly, and then I transfer the whole thing into one bowl for serving.
  9. Get started on those dishes. You have been cooking and chopping, measuring and mixing almost the entire time that the potatoes were cooking, so you probably haven’t had a chance to clean up yet.
  10. After 2-3 hours, enjoy a truly different creamy potato salad. You’ve got tang, interesting flavors and textures in the celery seed and lightly cooked onions and relish bits, and in the small pieces of potato skin that were cooked into the mixture.


Quantities for large gatherings (ratio conversations are occasionally imprecise, but still tasty!)

* 5 pound bag of Yukon gold potatoes, chopped and NOT peeled (best if cooked in two large stock pots)
* 5 eggs
* 1 ¼ cup finely chopped white onion (or an entire large white onion!)
* 1 8-oz jar of Mount Olive Sweet Pickle Relish
* 3 8-oz jars of Duke’s Mayo
* 5 tsp (1 Tbsp and 2 tsp) of each of the following:
   --celery seed
   --white vinegar
* 1 Tbsp salt
* 5 Tbsp mustard


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Another from Margaret Atwood’s Power Politics

You fit into me
like a hook into an eye

a fish hook
an open eye


Sunday, January 06, 2013

Benedictio Cretae

(I am lifting this from Rorate Caeli’s blog post. Everything in this post below this notice is copied & pasted straight from there, including his acknowledgement; I’m just putting it here so I don’t lose it.)

The Blessing of Chalk

In Latin:
V. Adiutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.
V. Dominus vobiscum.
R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
Bene+dic, Domine Deus, creaturam istam cretae: ut sit salutaris humano generi; et praesta per invocationem nominis tui sanctissimi, ut, quicumque ex ea sumpserint, vel ea in domus suae portis scripserint nomina sanctorum tuorum Gasparis, Melchioris et Baltassar, per eorum intercessionem et merita, corporis sanitatem, et animae tutelam, percipiant. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. R. Amen

In English:

V. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
R. Who made heaven and earth.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.
Bless, +. O Lord God, this creature chalk to render it helpful to men. Grant that they who use it in faith and with it inscribe upon the entrance of their homes the names of thy saints, Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthassar may through their merits and intercession enjoy health of body and protection of soul. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen

I would like to acknowledge Michael Pearce of Maternal Heart of Mary in Sydney for providing me with the Latin texts and the English translations of the blessings.